SCOTUS Allows Halliburton Suits to Proceed

The Supreme Court denied cert in several cases in which Halliburton and one of its subsidiaries, Kellogg, Brown and Root, are being sued for injuries suffered by soldiers and contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan due to faulty workmanship and mishandling of hazardous materials by those companies while working on contracts for the military.

The high court left intact appeals court rulings against the two companies in three different cases.

One lawsuit was brought by the family of U.S. Staff Sergeant Ryan Maseth, who died in 2008 after being electrocuted in his barracks in Iraq. The second was brought by a group of plaintiffs, mainly service members, who said they were injured by smoke from open-air “burn pits” used for waste disposal.

The third lawsuit was brought by soldiers from both the U.S. and Britain who say they were exposed to a potentially dangerous chemical, sodium dichromate, while serving at the Qarmat Ali water treatment facility in southern Iraq.

There are a series of cases against private contractors concerning their liability for actions that took place in Iraq and Afghanistan. Plaintiffs sue companies because the U.S. military generally cannot be sued over such issues. Courts have struggled over whether to allow the lawsuits to proceed.

KBR was bought by Halliburton, then spun off into its own company again. It was a Halliburton subsidiary until 2007. The companies have argued that they should be immune from liability because they were working for the government.

"You're all ignoring a big question: how did they get the frogs to drink from ..."

Warning: Alex Jones is Going to ..."
"Ah. So, go to war with everyone who looks at you funny, screw the environment ..."

Crokin: Trump Was Sending a Message ..."
"That sounded like Tex Avery would do for a cartoon short"

Swanson: God Will Punish Australia for ..."
"Please explain to me how an endorsement of critical examination of all propositions (or accusations, ..."

How to Think Critically About the ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • ashleybell

    I suppose the members of SCOTUS vote on whether or not to grant cert…Is there a public record on who voted how? (I may be wrong about my initial assumption)

  • colnago80

    Re Ashleybell @ #1

    Yes, the members vote on whether to accept a case on appeal. It takes 4 votes to grant cert.

  • Modusoperandi

    I don’t see why they can sue. These are like that “McDonald’s coffee is hot” lawsuit. If that soldier didn’t want to get electrocuted, he should’ve known better than to take a shower!

  • ashleybell

    Thanks colnago80! That actually makes sense in that I couldn’t see the foul five granting it. I could be wrong about the breakdown, but I have a guess.

  • Modusoperandi

    ashleybell “…the foul five…”

    Didn’t Batman and Robin stop them?

  • abb3w

    @2, colago80

    It takes 4 votes to grant cert.

    I’ve a vague recollection of hearing that the chief justice also may exercise the prerogative of a unilateral grant of cert; however, I don’t have a reliable source for that, and my impression is that regardless that would be done incredibly rarely. (If you don’t have three other votes in favor of listening to the case, you’re unlikely to end up with a total of four to support whatever result you consider important enough to use such prerogative.)

  • John Pieret

    Tell you what, instead of letting the suits go forward, we let injured soldiers and the relatives of the dead soldiers waterboard Dick Cheney and sell the videos. They’d get a lot more money that way.

  • Kermit Sansoo

    So KBR, Haliburton, Blackwater et al claimed they weren’t subject ot he military code of justice at the time, but now they want protection from reckless or criminal behavior because they “were working for the military”?


    These private contractors broke laws, got bidless contracts, hid their costs, charged much more than government personnel would have cost, and were generally incompetent.


    One of the Big Lies repeated ad nauseum by the Right Wing bestiary is that private enterprise is much more efficient that government agencies. Now we have kids going to jail – or the country going to war – based on how much profit somebody will make.

  • tfkreference

    waterboard Dick Cheney and sell the videos

    I was going to say that I’d buy one, just tbecause he doesn’t believe it’s torture. I then remembered that he does think it’s torture (citation needed, I admit), but has said that torture is necessary, even if a significant fraction of those tortured are innocent (“I have no problem as long as we achieve our objective.”)